Richmond’s east side has many large trees. More trees are being planted to add shade in the Baxter Neighborhood, North Richmond and the West Depot District within the next few weeks. Photo by Millie Emery

New program seeks to reduce temperatures, reduce energy use

A new group of volunteers is creating shade by planting trees in the hottest areas of Richmond.

The City of Richmond Tree Tenders Volunteer program planted trees in the Baxter Neighborhood on the city’s west side on Saturday, Oct. 8. They plan more tree plantings in North Richmond on Saturday, Oct. 22, and in the West Depot District on Nov. 5.

The goal of the Tree Tenders program is to increase the capacity for street tree planting in the city’s hottest and most vulnerable areas, according to Lucy Mellen, the city’s heat relief coordinator.

Neighborhoods that will receive trees were determined using data from the Heat Vulnerability Index, created by Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute, using data from Richmond’s previous Heat Watch Campaign and census data. Utilizing this data will help ensure that trees are planted in areas that need them most, Mellen said in a news release.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, trees can lower both surface and air temperatures through providing shade and helping water move into the atmosphere. Shaded surfaces may be 20 to 45 degrees F cooler than unshaded surfaces. Trees can help to reduce energy use, improve air quality, enhance stormwater management and improve quality of life.

Three parts of city government are partners in the endeavor: the Richmond Parks and Recreation Department, the Department of Infrastructure and Development, and the Street Tree Commission. The Tree Tenders Volunteer program was made possible by Indiana American Water’s Environmental Grant Program as well as city funds designated to go towards street trees.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Tree Tenders Volunteer program may contact Mellen at 765-983-7333 or

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